>> Friday, June 3, 2016

Alfred P. Dizon

Call them ship jumpers, opportunists or renegades, these politicians who suddenly shifted allegiance to Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte are what local folks call balimbings. 
In Northern Luzon, former LP members were inducted into the PDP-Laban Wednesday by prospective speaker Pantaleon Alvarez -- Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, leader of the Northern Luzon Alliance bloc; Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas and Pangasinan Rep. Rosemarie Arenas.
However, incoming Kalinga congressman Jesse Mangaoang said he would stick it out with the Nacionalista Party.
“Anyway NP has coalesced with president Duterte’s party,” he said.
Incoming Baguio Rep. Marquez Go will also remain with the NP, while reelected Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog will wait for the final decision of the LP leadership on the matter. 
Earlier, reelected Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. called on PDP-Laban to treat the LP as an equal and not force its members to switch parties.
Baguilat said PDP-Laban and LP were “ideological siblings in the political spectrum” and have had a history of joining forces, especially when Jovito Salonga and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. ran as a tandem for president and vice president, respectively, in 1992.
“This is why it should not be a condition for LP members to switch parties before they become part of the coalition,” he said.
Baguilat, a longtime LP member, said he would remain with the party and expressed readiness to join the minority.He believes in a need to have a “vibrant” and “smart” minority in the House of Representatives.
Re-elected Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, brother-in-law of LP standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, said he would remain with the party. “Once an LP, always an LP,” he said. However, he pledged to support Duterte.
“My vote is for Rep. Bebot Alvarez as House speaker,” he said.
Meanwhile, newly-elected Abra lawmaker Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos said he has long thought of joining PDP-Laban to show all out support to the Duterte administration.
“My joining the administration party can speak well of our intention to bring all the development possible in Abra through a strong link with the administration party,” he said.
“As a neophyte congressman, I would not like to be obstructionist but a catalyst for change, specially Abra’s progress.
“It was a decision based on both principles and Abrenians’ interest and welfare.” Last Wednesday, Alvarez also swore into PDP-Laban the former LP member.
Not to gripe, but if members of other political parties like the Liberal Party defect to PDP-Laban, it is understandable President Aquino said.
Aquino is the chairman of LP that also attracted other parties to switch to its side before and after he won the 2010 presidential elections.
He told reporters in Tarlac that local officials, including members of Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, would have to think about their constituents and their interests whenever a new administration comes in.
Aquino said he made sure that the promises he made to local officials and their constituents were fulfilled, unlike in the past.
“So, maybe in their view, they will be able to fulfill their promises to their districts by joining another group,” he said.
“But the good thing is that there are a number of them still with us and as I understand, there are those going back or planning to go back to us.”
Aquino said LP was actually branded as a tiny party that could fit into a Volkswagen beetle by the late senator Joker Arroyo before the 2010 elections.
“But when we fought for what was right even if we were only few, we had six years of being many, but we never forced other camps to join us,” he said.
“Maybe if you get a testimony from them, for example among governors, there are a lot of governors who could say they were not my partymates in 2010. They did not help me during the campaign but they were getting surprised by the assistance we gave them per province.”
Aquino said he was happy to have all these allies until the end of his administration and who acknowledged what they had done together.
“Jumping ships” among politicians had been the norm for many years in this banana republic, according to political observers.
Every time a new president comes along, politicians switch parties. There is really no party that can be called a genuine party with ideological leanings to make this country better with a set of programs, according to pundits who advocate a two-party system like that of the US but that is another story.
As my friendly neighborhood drunken philosopher who seems to know the answer to everything says: Party or not, the partying goes on for these politicians and officials as they eye more public funds to fill their pockets.

Will corruption stop under a Duterte administration? Your answer is as good as mine, he says.  


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